Brandon Hyde Named AL Manager of the Year

by Miguel Mike Medina

Baltimore Orioles are having a terrific week. Another day, another honor for the organization. Skipper Brandon Hype has been named the American League Manager of the Year. Hyde becomes the fourth Baltimore manager to win the accolade. He joins Frank Robinson, Davey Johnson, and Buck Showalter. Hyde led the Orioles to 101 wins this season. 

Brandon Hyde deserves this award. He took home 27 of 30 first-place votes. The Orioles improved last season when they won 83 games in 2022. Many people thought it was a fluke and were going to go back to their old ways. When Baltimore lost Trey Mancini to Houston, the city of Baltimore had concerns. Mancini was beloved in Baltimore.

But this Orioles group went out and proved everyone wrong. No one expected them to win the division. It took a group of young and veteran players to come together and put up an impressive season. Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins, and many more were responsible for putting the Orioles on a winning path. 

Under Hyde, the Orioles have created a culture of playing smart baseball and team togetherness. There’s a lot of harmony in this team and that had to do with the leadership of Brandon Hyde. Before making his journey as the Orioles manager, he managed the Marlins from 2010-2011 and then served as the bench coach for the Chicago Cubs from 2014-2018. He won a World Series title in 2016 with Chicago. 

Future Films Coming Soon

By Miguel Mike Medina

Stephen King is the man when it comes to writing. Another project will be used from his adaptations. The Director behind this project is Mike Flanagan, who is known for his work in Doctor Sleep. What about the cast? It got better. Chiwetel Ejafor, Karen Gillan, and Jacob Tremblay joined the cast for the film ‘The Life of Chuck.’ Tom Hiddleston and Mark Hamil are also part of this cast. Film Production has already taken place and one of the locations is in Alabama.

I like the addition of Jacob Tremblay. Ever since I saw him in Room and Wonder, I believe this kid is a star in the making of the film industry. We gotta protect him at all costs. 

Oscar winner Geena Davis is finally back in the leading role game. It’s been a long time coming for the veteran actress. She’s attached to Star in the road trip film called ‘Cowgirl’s Last Ride.’ The cast also features Scoot McNairy, Julia Sweeney, and Jill Scott.

The story follows an unorthodox retired Texas cowgirl, played by Davis, who battles against the negligent staff of her Dallas nursing home before escaping in a pickup truck on a journey towards her native east Texas, while her worried son sets off in hot pursuit. 

Leena Yadav will direct the film. She made her feature film debut in 2015 with Parched. Kris Hunt will write the screenplay. Production will begin sometime in 2024. 

A24’s ‘The Iron Claw’

By Miguel Mike Medina

A24, my favorite independent film company, has released a new trailer for the movie, The Iron Claw. It’s based on a true story. Directed by Sean Durkin. The cast is solid starting with Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, etc. The movie follows the triumph and tragedy of an American sports dynasty. It is set to hit the theaters on December 22nd. 

Jeremy Allen White is one talented actor. I’ve been following his work since Shameless. He has more momentum now after winning awards for his leading role performance in Hulu’s ‘The Bear.’ White could become the most successful actor out of the Shameless cast. He’s only like 32 or 33 years old. So we shall see. But I like his work as an actor and I wish him many more success. I’m looking forward to seeing this film when it hits online. 

Golden Globe nominee James McAvoy is the latest actor who will get behind the scenes and dip his toes into directing. I’m a fan and support actors who take situations into their own hands and try directing, writing, or producing. McAvoy will make his directorial debut on the rap biopic “Sibilil N Brains.” They’re a Scotland rap group that became infamous for conning the international music industry into thinking they were Californian rappers after faking American accents. I’m sure McAvoy will be reaching out to fellow directors to ask for advice and will be doing his homework very well. I’m rooting for McAvoy to enjoy his first taste in directing actors. 

Jaume Collet-Serra continues to get work. Consistency and dedication are key in Hollywood. Serra will be reuniting with actress Emily Blunt, whom I’m a fan of. Serra will be directing Amazon’s detective film “Kate Warne.” Emily Blunt will be serving as the producer for this project. Dwayne The Rock Johnson is also part of the producing team. Serra, Blunt, and Johnson all worked together in Disney’s’ Jungle Cruise. 

RRR – Movie Review

By Miguel Mike Medina

RRR is one incredible film and one of my favorite films of 2022. Yes, it is a long movie – 3 hours, which is one of my main issues of this movie, but it keeps you on your toes. There’s something about foreign films that brings excitement to a moviegoer like myself. RRR is an action/drama film. RRR stands for “Rise Roar Revolt.” The movie is about two legendary revolutionaries and their journey away from home before they started fighting for their country in the 1920s. The film is directed and written by the genius S. S. Rajamouli. 

The movie does have a lot of violence. The action pack is at an all-time high. One of the things I liked about this movie is the stage combat and the choreography. When I first saw the dancing scenes in the movie, it caught me by surprise to see that in this movie, especially an Indian movie. But I thought it was a good decision on the director’s part to include that. The writing, cinematography, acting, and soundtrack were all flat-out amazing. This is a movie that I can see myself owning on Blu-Ray or DVD. 

RRR is considered arguably India’s biggest action movie ever. It is the third highest-grossing Indian film of all time and the highest-grossing Indian film of 2022. RRR won the Academy Award for Best Original Song “Naatu Naatu.” The movie also won for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Song at the Critics Choice Awards. 

It is currently streaming on Netflix. You should watch it if you haven’t done so yet. From 1 through 5, I give this movie a 4.6 out of 5 stars. 

The Uneven Five of the American League Central

By Mark Martinez

     It amazes me that we have a cluster of American League Central Division teams below .500. With the American League East being so competitive, and the complete opposite, I guess some division has to be that way. 

     Looking back at last year’s standings, the Cleveland Guardians won the A.L. Central while the Chicago White Sox finished 2nd, with an 81 and 81 record. The Minnesota Twins seem to be the team, this year, that will win the division outright.

        In 1995, Major League Baseball expanded to three divisions in each league. In the last 28 seasons, believe it or not, the Cleveland Guardians have had the most division wins with eleven. If you follow baseball, you know the Cleveland Guardians were the laughing stock for a long period of time. From 1995 to 2001, they won the division 6 times. The Guardians put some great players on the map. There was Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Grady Sizemore, and C.C. Sabathia, just to name a few. Before researching this topic, I honestly didn’t expect to see such dominance from one franchise. 

     The Minnesota Twins rank 2nd, in the same time frame, with 8 division wins. The Twins are a smaller market team. In all the years the Twins have won the A.L. Central, only one time, in 2019, did the payroll exceed over 100 million dollars. In fact, the Minnesota Twins payroll, in 2002, was just 40 million dollars. 

     What I noticed about this division is the cluster. A franchise gets hot, for a few years, steady. The pattern seems to be if you win one year, you will probably win the year after, as well. The shocking part of this division, besides the under .500 factor, is how much the Kansas City Royals do not actually win. From 1995, until the present day, the Kansas City Royals have only won the A.L. Central one time. The only year the Royals actually won the division was in 2015, going on to also win the World Series that year. When you think of the Royals, you think of a small market team automatically. The Minnesota Twins are basically in the same position of being a small market franchise.

     Although 4 out of the 5 teams will finish under .500, you have to guess that eventually the tide will turn, and 4 out of the 5 will be above .500. Playoff contention for 80% of one division makes every game critical. 

AI and Music-Making: Allies or Adversaries?

By Jennifer Paccione

AI is here, people…and here to stay. Whether we like it or not, have tried ChatGPT or not, the buzz is flying about AI and its benefits—and its threats—to creativity—in fields across the board, including the music industry. Here are some pros and cons to this new and powerful tool on the block that is making its way into everything we see…and hear.

Enhanced Creativity: AI algorithms have the ability to generate new and unique musical compositions by analyzing vast amounts of existing music. This can help musicians and producers discover fresh melodies, harmonies, and rhythms that they may not have thought of on their own, leading to increased creativity and innovation.

Music Production and Efficiency: AI can automate various aspects of music production, such as mixing, mastering, and sound engineering. This can save time and effort for artists and producers, allowing them to focus more on the creative process. AI-powered tools can also enhance the quality and consistency of music production, leading to a more polished final product.

Improved Music Analysis: AI algorithms can analyze large datasets of music to extract patterns and insights. This can be beneficial for musicians, musicologists, researchers, and industry professionals, as it can provide valuable information about trends, genres, and audience preferences. Such insights can help musicians and record labels make informed decisions regarding their creative direction and marketing strategies.

Loss of Authenticity and Originality: While AI-generated music can be impressive, there is a concern that it may lack the emotional depth and authenticity associated with human creativity. Critics argue that AI compositions may lack the personal experiences, cultural context, and genuine emotions that artists bring to their work, leading to a loss of originality and uniqueness in the music industry. Impact on Employment: The integration of AI in music production and composition processes can potentially lead to job displacement for musicians, sound engineers, and other industry professionals. As AI tools become more sophisticated, there is a risk that human involvement in certain aspects of music creation could diminish, potentially affecting livelihoods and career opportunities.

Bias and Lack of Diversity: AI algorithms are trained on existing datasets, which can introduce biases and perpetuate existing inequalities in the music industry. If the training data predominantly represents certain genres, cultures, or demographics, AI-generated music may be skewed towards those characteristics, further marginalizing underrepresented artists and genres. Ensuring diversity and fairness in AI-generated music remains a challenge.

Ethical Concerns: The use of AI in music raises ethical questions, particularly regarding copyright and intellectual property. Determining ownership and rights over AI-generated compositions can be complex, as they are often based on existing works. Additionally, there are concerns about the potential misuse of AI for creating deepfake music or imitating the styles of famous artists without their consent.

As a musician and composer myself, I feel that as AI will have powers of speed, pattern- finding, and algorithm recipe cooking, I have to say that it will be nowhere close in replacing the dynamic ebbs and flows of the human touch. Whether it be the striking of keys, bowing or plucking of strings, pounding snares, toms, and bass drums, or even the breaths of singers between vocal phrases, I think we enjoy hearing the sounds of humans on their instruments, however subtle and unobtrusive they may be. Not to mention when I write/compose, I am drawing on my own unique experiences, past and present emotions, current life situations, perspectives, opinions, loves, hates, indifferences, dreams, passions, regrets……none of which AI possesses or can pretend to possess and translate into music as eloquently…and fiercely…as us humans.

We don’t always realize it, but those “human” nuances are what makes the audible mix so tantalizing, especially when music is heard live under an optimal sound- mixing/acoustic environment. The human connection is at the core of hearing live music, with the symbiotic relationship between audience and musician(s). Even the human energy between musicians live on stage has very powerful, unexplainable effects on the energy and emotions of the audience. Knowing from first-hand experience, musicians feed off of each other’s energy and even flow together somehow that helps the creative process and live experience unfold exponentially. Many times composing for my band I would get “composer’s block” so I would present my musical ideas on my keyboard with my fellow bandmates. Many jam sessions would find us all in different directions, then somehow magically merging together, like meandering rivers finding one ocean. We would bounce verbal and musical ideas off each other, whether talking or playing through these ideas. Once we locked on to something that we all agreed was working, we would ride that flow, swimming in each other’s rhythm and voice to create some amazing work. That’s also part of the fun of composing and performing with other musicians. I don’t know if AI would ever be able to get inside my head like my bassist or drummer can. And for me, there’s nothing in the world that compares to the electricity that runs through my veins and the power it brings me when I’m up there on stage playing music with my fellow kindred spirits and feeling that energy from an audience.

All that being said, I am certainly curious and eager to learn more how AI can better assist in future work and possibly save some time for me, as I learn how it can be my “musical assistant” rather than “co-composer.” I believe that we should understand that AI in music-making needs to serve us, the creators, as a tool rather than to be relied upon as a replacement in music-making.

Here are just a few examples of websites and platforms that currently utilize AI in music:
Jukedeck ( Jukedeck is an AI-powered platform that allows users to generate original music tracks in different genres and styles. Users can customize parameters such as tempo, mood, and duration to create music tailored to their needs.

Amper Music ( Amper Music is an AI-driven platform that enables users to create custom music tracks for various purposes, including film, video games, and commercials. It provides a library of pre-composed music elements that users can arrange and customize.

AIVA ( AIVA (Artificial Intelligence Virtual Artist) is an AI composer that creates original compositions in different styles and genres. AIVA has been used for film soundtracks, advertising, and other media projects. Melodrive ( Melodrive is an AI-driven music generation platform that creates adaptive and interactive music for video games. It uses AI algorithms to generate music in real-time, responding to the game’s events and creating a dynamic and immersive experience.

Magenta by Google ( Magenta is an open-source project by Google that explores the intersection of AI and music. It provides tools and resources for music generation, composition, and creativity using machine learning techniques.

I encourage you to give some (or all) of these a try, but take heed:
Always remember who created who.
Rock on, humans, and let’s keep making some great, boundary-pushing music.

Saturday Hockey News with Miguel

By Miguel Mike Medina

Vince Dunn signed a four-year, $29.4 million contract with the Seattle Kraken. The defenseman had NHL career highs in goals, assists, points, plus-minus and power-play points.

Nashville Predators signed veterans Ryan O’Reilly and Luke Schenn. The Predators are trying to make a playoff push for next seasons

LSU Must Vacate Wins

By Miguel Mike Medina

The NCAA Independent Accountability Resolution Panel has dropped the hammer on LSU Football. LSU will have to vacate all the wins they accumulated from 2012 through 2015. 

Photo Credit to: Crescent City Sports Staff

As a person who has been watching sports for 24 years, It never made sense to me that you are making teams vacate their wins and championships. I don’t think you gain anything from it because the games were already played. The only person I see this affecting is LSU head coach Les Miles. The current LSU football players shouldn’t suffer for something that happened a decade ago. I’m saying this just in case if NCAA wants to take things into deeper measures.

Photo Credit to: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With that being said, coach Les Miles will probably not make it to the College Football Hall of Fame and won’t be eligible. In those four years, the Tigers will have to erase 37 wins including two bowl games. Mike’s’ head coaching winning record will drop from 145 wins to wins. 

Kevin Costner, A24’s ‘Priscilla’ Teaser

By Miguel Mike Medina

Kevin Costner’s marriage story continues to get messy. Christine, Costner’s estranged wife, is not happy. She’s not happy with the way things were handled about their kids finding out about their split. Christine is taking deeper measures by requesting $248k a month in child support. First, Kevin Costner leaves the hit show ‘Yellowstone’ and now he’s dealing with this nightmare. Are marriages worth any more? Why does it have to come down to money, especially from Rich public figures? 

Money is not everything. It’s important but it doesn’t bring you happiness. Things are getting out of hand in this Costner family. We hope they can come to an understanding at some point because there are kids involved. 

A24 just released the first teaser for Sofia Coppola’s ‘Priscilla’ film.

It is based on Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir ‘Elvis and Me.” The movie is set to be released on October 2023. This is Sofia’s first directed and written project since her 2020 comedy-drama film, On the Rocks, which is on Apple TV+. 

Miguel’s Top Christian Music to Listen in 2023

By Miguel Mike Medina

Christian music brings a lot of joy and heals the soul. What would life be without Christian and Worship music? I’m so glad that I began listening to Christian music since last Summer, when I became more of a spiritual person.

In this video that’s on “The MMM Journal,” I mention several Christian songs to listen for 2023. Hit the link to see the FULL video: